Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Staying on Message

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Oct 13, 2007

Originally posted on Half an Hour, October 13, 2007.

Responding to Dave Cormier:

Good post.

“We are constantly bombarded by subtle media signs that are trying to use our desire for belonging to get us to buy things, to get us to do things… If we aren’t careful, we do things to belong.”

Absolutely right. And ’staying on message’ is a huge part of this. To get us to say the same things, to believe the same things (and hence, to buy the same things, vote for the same things). Which ultimately… hurt us.

The only way to survive is to get to the root of the rot. To define clearly and for yourself what counts as ‘getting ahead’. Are the rewards they offer you enough to convince you to mouth words you know are false? Is the threat of loss of livelihood sufficient to force you to comply to the corporate myth?

OPLC serves a noble cause, but it is not benign. It is an instantiation of a certain myth - one that might be titled “we produce, you consume” - but which is supported by media manipulation. We never read of other mini-computer initiatives. We never see an explanation of why places like MIT goe their own way - on MediaMOO, on OPLC, on Sakai, on DSpace - instead of supporting the international community that *already* exists. We don’t hear why UNESCO supports (Sun’s project) Curriki, instead of Wikiversity. We don’t read about open source mobile phone hardware and peer-to-peer communications networks. We see no discussion of why ‘personal pages’ (ie., pages that are non-commercial) are subjected to blanket filtering, as a class. Because “we produce, you consume”. And the wealth continues to flow in one direction.

When you start ’staying on message’ to appease your employers and your funders, you begin to support this message, this one-way flow of wealth, this undermining of your your own independence, your own livlihood, our own freedom.

You can’t make me ’stay on message’ because it costs too much. The minute somebody realizes they can take away your freedom - they do. And nothing you believe or own is yours again.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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